The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) is ramping its drive to improve the volume and intensity of collaborations with industry, as a result of lacklustre initiatives from government in this area.
“At government level, it has lost sight of the importance of [academic and industry] engagement and if we’re not seeing the direction we’d like to see from government, for example, then the onus is on institutions to get on and do it themselves,” UTS deputy vice-chancellor of innovation and enterprise Glenn Wightwick told InnovationAus.com.
It comes as UTS hosts for the first time the University Industry Engagement Conference, an annual global forum brought together by the University of Industry Innovation Network (UIIN) and attended by some 500 industry leaders and researchers specialising in innovation and entrepreneurship from around the world. The event has previously been hosted by the University of Adelaide.
“We want to be associated with a conference like this because it’s a great example of industry and universities engaging, and it aligns with our direction [to develop collaboration partnerships with industry],” Mr Wightwick said.
Mr Wightwick said the aim of these engagements was to allow Australian universities and industry to ultimately ‘borrow’ ideas from others that can be commercialised and produced into tangible results.
“It’s a chance for us to directly pick up people’s ideas. It’s also about getting a sense of what other countries and geographies are doing,” he said.
“The sharing of those best practices and knowledge is really important. Of course, what we’re trying to achieve is done in the context of our economy, our rules, and our regulations and government policies.
“It allows us to look at all the similarities, contrast, what works, what doesn’t work, and what experience other people have had – and that’s really invaluable,” said Mr Wightwick.
But collaboration and commercialisation are not the only goals for UTS, Mr Wightwick said. “It’s not just about researching, it’s about students, it’s about solving problems, and it’s about helping to drive good policy.”
UTS has just taken over the building of what was previously home to tech startup incubator Fishburners as part of plans to develop its own technology precinct in Sydney’s inner-city suburb of Ultimo.
Mr Wightwick said 608 Harris Street, Ultimo would be converted into a co-working space for emerging startups created by the university’s own student entrepreneurs.
“We’re in the process of activating the space. We’ve got our innovation entrepreneurship team in a building just across the road, and we’re talking about creating a little precinct and taking over Ultimo,” he said.
“There are little laneways and cafes around there, and we want to open the doors up and let people in and out, which is part of getting that space activated.”